Vancouver Canucks

Blackhawks sign one-year contract with Philip Holm

philip-holm-canucks.jpg
USA Today

Blackhawks sign one-year contract with Philip Holm

The Chicago Blackhawks announced Monday they have agreed to terms with Philip Holm on a one-year, two-way contract that runs through the 2019-20 season ($700,000 NHL/$300,000 AHL).

The 27-year-old Swedish defenseman made his NHL debut in 2017 with the Vancouver Canucks against the Vegas Golden Knights. Playing for the Canucks American Hockey League affiliate, the Utica Comets, Holm tallied 29 points (11G, 18A) in 42 regular-season games. Holm was traded to the Golden Knights in 2018. Holm achieved one goal and eight helpers in 21 games with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. He added two points (1G, 1A) in three Calder Cup Playoff games.  

Before playing in North America, Holm spent the 2015-16 campaign with the Växjö Lakers of the Swedish Hockey League where he scored 21 points (4G, 17A) in 52 regular-season games. He recorded a SHL best plus-24 rating that season. Spanning parts of six seasons (2010-12, 2014-17) with Växjö and Djurgårdens of the SHL, Holm recorded 41 points (10G, 31A) in 197 regular-season games and had one goal and three assists in 26 playoff games. In 90 regular-season Allsvenskan games with Djurgården (2012-14), he had 20 points (6G, 14A). In 2017, Holm helped Sweden to a gold medal at the World Championships of that year, tallying one goal and two assists in seven games.

Four takeaways: Blackhawks manufacture point against Canucks despite inconsistent effort

blackhawks_canucks_usa_today.jpg
USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Blackhawks manufacture point against Canucks despite inconsistent effort

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center on Monday:

1. Manufacturing a point

The Blackhawks had a good opportunity on the table. After Arizona lost, they could've pulled within three points of a wildcard spot with a game in hand if they pulled out a victory.

Instead, they settled for the one point, which was obviously important because it moved them within two games. But they weren't satisfied with their effort, especially against a Canucks team that was on the second of a back-to-back and started their 23-year-old rookie goaltender who had only five career NHL starts going into the game.

"We had a chance to jump on ‘em, try to wear them down early and take control of the game and just let them hang around," said Jonathan Toews, who's now three goals away from tying his career high of 34 set during the 2008-09 season. "We didn’t have the speed and pace we needed early on. Obviously it’s nice to get that point. But tough finish."

2. The pros and cons

There's good news and bad news regarding the effort the Blackhawks turned in.

The good news? The defense was solid, allowing only nine total high danger chances, according to naturalstattrick.com, after giving up 24 to Montreal and 18 to Toronto.

The bad news? The offense generated just six of their own and were held to two goals, which is below their season average of 3.35 per game. There weren't many high quality opportunities. But the Canucks took advantage of theirs and the Blackhawks didn't until late.

"We didn’t come out hard enough," Erik Gustafsson said. "We know they’re playing back to back and we talked about it before. We needed to come out much harder today. Just a bad 60 minutes. At least we got one point. But we need two now. It’s not fun."

3. Playing down to opponents?

The Blackhawks are fighting for their playoff lives. Every point matters, no matter who the opponent is. But lately they haven't been bringing their A-game against teams below them in the standings. They lost to Los Angeles, barely escaped Anaheim and were fortunate to pick up a point against the Canucks.

Is that a trend or just a blip?

"There's been nights where we've played down, for sure," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I don't know if that's a consistent thing, but obviously there's been some instances where we would've liked to play better against teams we're ahead of in the standings. But we also had a pretty good run there in January where we were beating teams that we needed to beat and that's why we're here. We didn't have it tonight, but we did manufacture a point and gotta just use the two days to reload here and get back at it."

4. Patrick Kane hits century mark

For the second time in his NHL career, Kane has hit the 100-point mark. It was only a matter of when, not if. And after going pointless in Montreal, he didn't have to wait too much longer to do it. 

With a primary assist on Toews' power-play goal in the first period, Kane became the third player in franchise history to record multiple 100-point seasons, joining Jeremy Roenick (three times) and Denis Savard (five). He also became the fifth American-born player to accomplish that feat.

Kane joins Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov and Edmonton's Connor McDavid as the first three players to reach 100 points this season. Kane's career high is 106, set during the 2015-16 campaign when he won the Art Ross and Hart Trophy. And with 10 games remaining, there's a good chance he breaks that, too.

Four takeaways: Jonathan Toews keeps winning streak alive for Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Jonathan Toews keeps winning streak alive for Blackhawks

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center on Thursday:

1. Jonathan Toews to the rescue

The Blackhawks didn't play their best game of the season. Not even close. But they're finding ways to win despite that. And their captain was the main reason why they earned the much-needed extra point against a Canucks team that went into the day sitting in the second wild card spot in the Western Conference was 5-0-0 in their previous five games against Chicago.

Toews was approaching the end of his second shift in overtime, but found an opening and went for it. His terrific individual effort speaks for itself, and it gave the Blackhawks their sixth consecutive win.

"I think maybe everyone else on the ice was as tired as I was," said Toews, who extended his point streak to six games and has 12 career overtime winners. "I was just trying to make one last play without it being too dangerous of a play and risking a turnover. But I was able to anticipate their D-man throwing his stick in there and was able to get a shot on net. It’s nice to see those go in." 

2. Special teams galore

For much of the first period, the Canucks looked like the better team. They generated 12 scoring chances at 5-on-5 compared to the Blackhawks' five, and eight high danger chances vs. only two allowed, according to naturalstattrick.com.

But after staving off the Canucks and killing off a 5-on-3 penalty for 1:10 along with the rest of the 50 seconds at 5-on-4, the Blackhawks were awarded a couple power plays of their own in the final four minutes. And they delivered.

With goals from Alex DeBrincat and Brandon Saad just 1:23 apart, the Blackhawks quickly went up 2-0 and went into intermission feeling good about themselves because they know they didn't have their best period. That's how important an effective power play is these days. 

"It was a weird game," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We go down 5-on-3, we kill it off, we get our own 5-on-3, we score twice. It's like, 'Wow.' We're finding ways to get it done. ... I think we feel like every time we go on the power play we're a threat. We're going to score sometimes, but the big thing is that we create momentum, create chances, keep moving it forward, keep them under pressure and we can build on it whether we put the puck in the net or not."

It's the eighth time in the past 16 games the Blackhawks have scored multiple power-play goals after doing so zero times in their first 39 games. The Blackhawks were 4-on-4 on the penalty kill before the Canucks scored on their fifth opportunity with 1:52 left in regulation.

3. Erie Otters connection strikes again

The DeBrincat and Strome chemistry is well-documented, dating back to their days with the Erie Otters in the OHL. Their on-ice connection was on full display against the Canucks.

Strome and DeBrincat connected twice, both of which were dishes from Strome and finished by DeBrincat. The second was a terrific no-look pass by Strome that summed up their night together.

"It's chemistry," Strome said. "He's usually over there. We've had a couple of close ones where we didn't really click on it, but it felt good. We felt good before the game and for whatever reason it clicked today." 

With two goals, DeBrincat matched his goal total (28) from his rookie campaign in 27 fewer games. He also stretched his point streak to seven games, which ties a season high, and become the eighth play in Blackhawks history to record at least 50 points in each of their first two NHL seasons.

4. Wild card picture

Unlike Tuesday, the Blackhawks didn't get as much help around the league on Thursday. All 15 Western Conference teams were in action, and a majority of the teams above them picked up points. 

The Avalanche earned a point by scoring a late third-period goal to force overtime in Washington before losing. The Oilers defeated the Wild in regulation. And the Blues beat the Lightning in overtime to move into the second wild card spot. The Coyotes were the only notable team that lost in regulation.

The good news? The Blackhawks have jumped Anaheim and Arizona in the standings in a span of 48 hours. Two down, four more to go.

"It’s hard not to," Toews said on standings watching. "I think that’s the fun of it, is seeing what’s going on around the league every night when our conference is as close as it is. We’ve been talking about that, too, is we’re going to focus on our job and that’s pretty much all that we can control, so that’s what we’ll worry about. But there’s no doubt you’re aware of what’s going on."